Couric Pleads with Gore to Bash Bush
3. Gibson Harangues Barkley to Support Daschle Amendment
4. In JFK Story, NBC Features Shot at Bush on Iraq
5. Clooney Rails Against Bush War Policy
Ailes Memo? Jennings Does That Every Night
"Torture" by air conditioning. Leave it to ABC's Peter Jennings to highlight the plight of a Pakistani who survived being detained at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. After Jennings on Tuesday night helpfully noted how "human rights organizations have complained the U.S. is violating the prisoners' rights and acting without regard for international law," reporter Bob Woodruff narrated a story about the prisoner's claims of mistreatment, including the "torture" of air conditioning.
Woodruff empathized with how the man, who is now back in Pakistan, was "swept up in the chaos of the war, he was handed over to the U.S. and flown to Cuba, blind-folded and tied." The Pakistani charged that "once gave a call for prayer, and after that, we were punished...They beat us, they hit us on the head, grabbed us by the neck."
The man, "who had never seen air conditioning before, thought it was a kind of torture," Woodruff related before the man complained about how "they pumped cold air from a hole in the ceiling. This was the punishment. The air was very cold."
Most of the residents of Cuba outside the U.S. naval base dream of such a "punishment."
Woodruff concluded by noting that the man never got the $2,000 the U.S. promised "in compensation for his ordeal" and worse, "no one...has even apologized."
Hey, he's alive and well.
Jennings introduced the piece on the November 19 World News Tonight, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "In Pakistan, one of the first and only prisoners released from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has been talking about his experience. For more than a year, the U.S. has kept the prisoners completely isolated from the world. Human rights organizations have complained the U.S. is violating the prisoners' rights and acting without regard for international law. Tonight, what it was like inside Guantanamo. Here's ABC's Bob Woodruff."
Woodruff began, over video of the man in Pakistan: "In Guantanamo Bay, Mohammed Sageer (spelling a guess) was known simply as 'Prisoner 143.' But in Pakistan, he had been a lumber cutter with two wives and nine children. He says he had only gone to Afghanistan last year as part of an Islamic teaching group. But swept up in the chaos of the war, he was handed over to the U.S. and flown to Cuba, blind-folded and tied. [over video from a distance of two soldiers carrying a prisoner in chains] Twice a month, he was bound in chains, he said, and questioned by U.S. intelligence about his ties to terrorists."
Sageer missed the presidency of a President who might have apologized.
You'd have thought that the vote exactly two weeks before Couric's interview with Gore would have dispelled any notion that Bush lacked a mandate.
Couric then proceeded to read a lengthy quote from a liberal writer in the New Yorker who complained about Gore not speaking out against Bush before she prompted Gore to take on Bush's Iraq and economic policies.
Couric's Tuesday interview followed his appearance on Friday's 20/20 in a taped interview in which ABC's Barbara Walters expressed exasperation with Al Gore's lack of outrage over not getting the presidency, with her wondering "why aren't you...bitter?," suggesting he declare "I won the popular vote!" and demanding: "How can you sit here this calmly now?" She also declared that "there are few things Al Gore cares more about than the state of the American family," and wanted know if he would "consider Hillary Clinton as a possible running mate" so "you could have a Gore-Clinton ticket?" See the November 18 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021118.asp#1
Couric began her November 19 segment with Al and Tipper Gore, which aired during the 7:30am half hour, by pressing Al Gore to announce whether he will run again for President. Couric worried, as taken down by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory: "I know that your daughter Karenna described the whole election as pretty devastating recently, and I'm sure that it was a pretty difficult, traumatic and trying time for your entire family. Not only election night, but of course the weeks and months following the election. Are you really prepared Mrs. Gore to put yourself through that again?"
Couric wondered: "You feel as if you won this election fair and square, and that you should be President?"
Al Gore disagreed, insisting that he supports the rule of law and that Bush is the "legitimate President."
Couric countered: "But at the same time, if you did win the popular vote, many people say that can be interpreted as the failure of a mandate for our current President, and that you owe the people who supported you on election day, you needed to be their voice. Let me read a quick excerpt from a recent New Yorker article. It said that you should have been speaking out politely and firmly on the issues of the moment. Instead, quote 'instead he fell silent. He did not accept and apparently did not perceive the responsibility that his popular vote victory had laid upon him. The other day a Fox News poll had twice as many people saying they would have felt less safe with Gore in the White House than they do with Bush. Does this reflect a belief that Gore would have been less than vigorous in going after terrorists? Maybe, but perhaps it also reflects a recognition that at a crucial moment, he essentially left voiceless those who had placed their trust in him.' Why didn't you speak out more vigorously on the issues of the day, particularly before September 11? One could understand how afterwards you didn't want to undermine the President's authority, but you had several months in which you could. Why not?"
Gore explained that he thought leaving the stage was the right to do after all the election trauma and that he wanted some time off.
Couric did not cite the name of the author of the liberal polemic she quoted, but the MRC's Rich Noyes tracked it down and discovered it was a piece in the November 4 New Yorker by Hendrik Hertzberg, a liberal writer who was once a reporter for Newsweek and put in a stint as a speechwriter in the Carter White House.
Couric proceeded to prompt Gore to take on Bush policies:
"Let me ask you about a speech you gave in San Francisco in September. You were highly critical of President Bush's handling of foreign affairs, specifically in Afghanistan and Iraq. You said that the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein could quote 'seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism.' How would you do things differently, how would you handle Saddam Hussein if you were President?"
And: "Let me ask you about the Bush administration's economic policy. You describe it as catastrophic, and you haven't said specifically what you would have done to jumpstart the economy. Can you tell me quickly?"
Couric then turned to the new book by the Gores: "Let's talk about the book Joined at the Heart. Why did you guys want to focus on the American family and the transformation of the American family? What is it that appealed to you about this subject?"
Couric gave it another plug: "So it's harder than ever to raise a family, but in the book you really celebrate those who are doing it successfully, even if they're doing it differently."
The Gores appeared again this morning on Today to discuss the book and will be on for a third straight day on Thursday.
The Today Web page has an excerpt from Joined at the Heart and Windows Media Player video of the November 19 interview: http://www.msnbc.com/news/835165.asp
Interviewing Minnesota's interim Senator, Dean Barkley, on Tuesday's Good Morning America, co-host Charles Gibson seemed obsessed with getting him to oppose the bill to create a Department of Homeland Security because of the "special interest" provisions added by the House. It was about the only thing Gibson asked about, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed. She took down Gibson's questions on the November 19 program:
-- "Fifty-seven days you come to Washington, and all of a sudden, you're important. Who'da thunk it?"
-- "Now, before the vote comes on the Homeland Security bill itself, there is a critical amendment. The Democrats have offered to strip a lot of the special interest provisions out of the Homeland Security bill. Will you vote for that amendment or against it?"
-- "The Democrats make the argument there are protections in this for companies that make airport screening devices, there are protections in it for companies that make vaccines -- there's one protection for a pharmaceutical company that makes a vaccine not even related to Homeland Security. There's a part of it that would give a research center to Texas A&M, where so many prominent Republicans are located. Why might you vote to keep those things in the bill? Why not get the special interest provisions out, say the Democrats?"
-- "Well, you are an Independent. Why can't, the Democrats make the argument, why can't you take out the special interest provisions and then vote for Homeland Security itself?"
-- "Bottom line -- because of course what the American public, I think, cares about most is something to make the homeland safer -- so this amendment becomes a political fight, but bottom line, are you saying that a Homeland Security bill itself could be in question?"
In the end Barkley, I believe, showed resistance to Gibson's prodding and voted against the Daschle effort to remove the House provisions and then was amongst the 90 yes votes on final passage.
A nice shot at a "healthy" President's policies given a forum by NBC Nightly News. During a piece on how President Kennedy had more health problems and was taking more drugs than previously known, reporter Bob Faw featured this soundbite from Kennedy adviser Ted Sorensen: "We had a President who had ailments who, in the Cuban missile crisis, kept us out of war. Now we have a President who's very fit. What conclusions do you draw from that?"
A not too subtle shot at President Bush's Iraq policy.
The NBC story was one of a series of them on Sunday and Monday hyping a new book by historian Robert Dalleck, which is excerpted in the latest Atlantic magazine. In the piece aired on the November 18 NBC Nightly News and CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, Faw featured a defense of Kennedy's cover-up of his real health problems: "Former Kennedy aides like counselor Theodore Sorensen say the disclosures are only one small measure of JFK."
Nothing will ever tarnish it in the eyes of the press corps which created the Camelot myth in the first place.
James Taranto picked up on Clooney's comments which were cited this week on MSNBC's "Jeannette Walls Delivers the Scoop" Web page, but though she treated them as fresh, I tracked down Clooney's quote and found it was first reported in the London Observer back on January 20 of this year.
[Be advised, the text below in this item includes an accurate quotation with a vulgarity.]
The latest Walls column reported: "It sounds like George Clooney is opposed to invading Iraq. When a London Observer reporter asked about America's actions post 9/11, he replied: 'We live on an island. A giant big f - - - ing island. We don't understand that people actually get mad at us. We still think of ourselves in terms of WW2. It's not uncommon for us to say to France, 'Hey, you'd still be speaking German if it wasn't for us.' The problem is the world has changed, and our involvement in these tiny little places is different than it was in 1941. It was a lot clearer then. We were attacked."
That's online at: http://www.msnbc.com/news/836848.asp
Clooney probably is opposed to Bush's Iraq policy, but Clooney made his comment long before Iraq became a big issue, so he was probably upset at the time about how Bush was using military force in reaction to the 9/11 attacks.
Clooney's remarks were quoted in an interview with Mariella Frostup of the London Observer. She recounted in a January 20 story I found on the paper's Web site:
For the entire interview/article: http://www.observer.co.uk/life/story/0,6903,636209,00.html
For more about Clooney and a photo of him, check his Internet Movie Database bio: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Clooney,+George
Clooney, best known for playing a doctor for several years on NBC's ER, stars in two movies coming out this month: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Solaris.
For more on this subject, see the November 19 CyberAlert: Displaying an amazing level of hypocrisy, on Monday CNN shows focused on the revelation that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes sent a memo to Bush adviser Karl Rove just after the terrorist attacks. Treating this as newsworthy: CNN, a network run until two years ago by Rick Kaplan, who while President of CNN, played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and attended a mock debate session with Al Gore -- all after, while at ABC News, advising candidate Clinton on how to handle the Flowers situation and blocking anti-Clinton stories from ABC. Details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021119.asp#4
> Tom Brokaw is scheduled to appear tonight, Wednesday night, on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien. -- Brent Baker